Welcome, dear friends, to that dank, foisty and altogether unpleasant corner of the internet that will forever (or for the foreseeable future, at least) be the Tracks column. Well, we say “corner”, it is our understanding that the internet is a series of tubes – tubes that can become physically blocked – so perhaps it would be more accurate to instead describe our patch of dank, foisty unpleasantness as the flange fitting, pipe elbow or u-bend of internet single releases.
As the raw sewage of pop passes into and through our grasps, there are occasional blockages: we use a discarded badminton racquet to poke through floaters like The Feeling with barely-concealed disdain, yet sift patiently for the odd diamond Factory Floor, Cloud Nothings or Molotov Jukebox – accidentally flushed in our direction.
So join us, won’t you, as we pan for gold once more. Face mask applied? Latex gloves donned? Tetanus shot prepared? Then we shall begin.
Factory Floor Two Different Ways
Single of the week? The one we put up top isn’t necessarily the best track we’ve heard over the past seven days, or the most fantastic song vaguely linked to the present moment. But this time, it is.
Two Different Ways is great. Mutantbasssteppingsynthesisedpseudohouseindustrialtechnoglitch-tastic. It sounds like the world spectacularly going wrong, in the most awesome way possible.
At this point, we normally just keep going on and on and on – there are few songs that we prefer to the sound of our own voice – but not here. So, with the 30 seconds it would have taken you to read the half-paragraph we aren’t going to write, click on that link, there. Go on. HOPPIT.
Field Music – (I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing
Sunderland lads David and Peter Brewis (Field Music to you, pal) haven’t a bad bone between them, and while we’ve never quite managed to completely immerse ourselves in their output – if anything, side project The Week That Was tickled our fancy more – we’ve always admired the Field Music agenda, nodding gratefully in the general direction of their inventive genre-hopping.
Lo and behold, it is to such flitting footloosedness (?) that the pair are returning for fourth (FOURTH!) LP Plumb, which, they would have us believe, is “shot through with surreal abstractions of 20th Century film music from Bernstein to Willy Wonka”. Granted, (I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing is bereft of a prog passage of the Jurassic Park theme – or even a stylish reinterpretation of Pippin’s haunting Mist And Shadow – but nevertheless ladles enough pop gruel to have us asking, please sir, for some more.
Cloud Nothings – No Future / No Past
Steven Frank Albini. Steve Albini… STEVE ALBINI! Made you look, you studiously-informed-if-ever-so-slightly-wanktacular muso, you. Yes, we’re talking the record producing, sound engineering, three-sandwich-in-one-sitting eating living legend himself.
And while the good Mr Albini hasn’t written, performed or recorded on this occasion as such (“It’s like the drums are in the same room, maaan”), he has deigned to baste Dylan Baldi-led Clevelanders Cloud Nothings – increasingly a byword for under-the-radar alt-cred – with the juice of his Godlike genius. No Future / No Past delivers, its Slint/Shellac-esque noisesmithery a genuine blast from the not-so-distant past. Appreciative frowns at the ready.
Molotov Jukebox – Get Ready
So Nymphadora Tonks finds herself at the head of a gyp-step funk, sassy soul, Balkan beats six-piece, does she? What next – Gandalf on the ones and twos at God’s Kitchen? Prince Caspian violently ending his own life in his secluded Seattle home? Ron Weasley guesting in an Ed Sheeran video? Yeah, RIGHT!
To be fair, we’ve no idea what a Nymphadora Tonks is, but we did recognise Molotov Jukebox frontwoman Natalia Tena as Ellie from About A Boy: she terrified us then and she terrifies us now. But in a good way. And the track itself? Try this rather smashing Afrobeat cover of The Temptations‘ Get Ready for starters.
Slow Club If We’re Still Alive
We realised something. It’s taken a while, probably because we’re slow. We should start a club. Ha. Ha. Ha. Oh.
What we’ve realised is this. Slow Club are great. And this, the new single from them, epitomises the brilliance. If We’re Still Alive is a messy, clattering bit of melancholic deliciousness, complete with some glorious twangy guitars.
Its be-quiffed magnificence and harmonic climax makes you just go a bit misty eyed at how beautiful things can occasionally be. Or something.
Foster The People – Call It What You Want
It’s Christmas – in a marketing, if not strictly literal, sense – which means it’s time to corral the year’s movers and shakers into a pen marked “buy”. Not for the benefit of finger-on-the-pulse types like ourselves, you understand; more for the Johnny Come Latelies, Radio 2 listeners and fretting pressie-buyers of this world.
Step forward Los Angeles’ Foster The People with perhaps the choicest cut of their springtime debut Torches, WHICH IS STILL AVAILABLE TO BUY AND A GREAT STOCKING FILLER. Not for those of us already aboard the bandwagon, though: it only took us three-to-four months to cotton on, and we’re still spinning Call It What You Want. Cool as ice.
Blood Orange Champagne Coast
The fact the Dev Hynes, once of Test Icicles, wrote a song for Diana Vickers, wore a furry hat and did folk songs under the name of Lightspeed Champion, is now channelling Prince (as Blood Orange), is just plainly marvellous.
Champagne Coast is smooth. With a capital V. It’s all subtle insinuations, vague prods, plaintive lust and come-to-bed eyes. Come-to-bed-please eyes
It is slick, sparse, tasteful, vaguely ’80s and listening to it almost demands that you slip into something more comfortable, dim the lights and pour a drink.
High Places Sonara
There are a number of reasons to like this. The skittering minimalist beats, like skeletal spiders tap dancing across corrugated tin sheets, is one. The breathy trip-hoppy vocal, a little bit Lamb, a bit Massive Attack, a little bit Portishead, is two.
But three, three is the charm. Because three is the video. Which is weird. And violent. And based on Popeye cartoons. AND featuring the Liars’ Angus Andrews. Watch it. Unless you’re of a sensitive disposition.
Actually, you should probably watch it even if you are of a sensitive disposition. Face your fears, you big wuss. It’s the only way to grow as a human being.